SFTV Re-Views: Deep Space Nine 1.7-1.10

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DS9 1.7: “Q-Less”

Having just spun off from Star Trek: TNG and having a few episodes under its belt, DS9 decides to reconnect a bit with the parent program by bringing Vash and Q back. (Vash being the Indiana Jones-like archaeologist/profiteer and Q being the omnipotent alien.) Q had taken Vash to the Gamma Quadrant two years ago but they had a falling out in which each claims s/he left the other. Regardless, Q wants Vash back but she only wants to sell some artifacts she’s acquired in the Gamma Quadrant, getting Quark’s help to do so. While this goes on, the power drains on the shuttle that Dax brought Vash back on (and which nearly killed them both) have spread to the station and, later, the station mysteriously starts moving towards the wormhole where it will be destroyed. Q is initially the prime suspect but he denies it and Sisko doesn’t think it’s him, either. With a neutron star’s worth of technobabble, Sisko, Kira, Dax, and O’Brien all work to try to save the day and show how the storylines are connected.

The plot of this episode is pretty weak and the ending is a bit silly and somewhat like a particular TNG episode but it is very entertaining as almost any episode with Q has to be. Q’s not a nice guy, as his tormenting of Vash shows but, for an omnipotent being, he’s actually pretty easy-going. For instance, he doesn’t even take revenge when, after magicking a boxing match between them, Sisko punches him, only exclaiming that Picard never punched him, to which Sisko tellingly replies, “I’m not Picard.” That said, DS9 never really found the alternate chemistry with Q and Sisko that Q and John Luck Pickard had and he didn’t make many appearances. Favorite line, on complaining about how dull Earth is: “Don’t get me wrong. A thousand years ago it had character – Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Watergate.” Another good moment was when Odo was mystified about some beings’ pursuit of material goods and Quark trying to tempt him, getting him to think for a long moment about the appeal of a “platinum-plated bucket” to regenerate in.

Once again, the episode ends with a “return to normal” going even further to repeat that they were able to “return the station to its original position” but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

DS9 1.8: “Dax”

When this episode opens, we’re informed via Sisko’s voiceover that this will be a No’Brien episode as he’s back on Earth with Keiko. What it is, is a Dax episode, and a good one, too. Dax is innocently fending off Julian’s advances while some shady characters are observing her. When she departs, they follow her and attempt to kidnap her. Bashir has come along to try again, sees this, punches the ringleader, but then hesitates when the hood comes off another antagonist and it’s revealed to be a woman. So she smacks him and knocks him out. Meanwhile, Dax is far from the Klingon warrior-woman she will become in later seasons, and is briefly knocked unconscious. (It would have been better if she’d stayed unconscious and been carried instead of recovering, asking dumb questions, and stumbling along semi-voluntarily.) Meanwhile, Bashir recovers, contacts Ops, and they start trying to lock down the station and find the kidnappers. It’s looking pretty bad when they actually escape in their ship but the look of satisfaction on Kira’s face when Sisko fixes the disabled tractor beam and reels in the fleeing ship is priceless.

It turns out that these aren’t your garden variety thugs but people from a Kardassian-associated world with extradition papers. (How the Federation has a “unilateral” extradition treaty with such a world is another of this episode’s small problems.) Dax is being charged with treason and murder and doesn’t look too innocent about it. But, again, the scene in which Sisko lets Kira take over because there is no such treaty between the world and Bajor (and DS9 is Bajoran territory) is also priceless. So a (brilliantly cast and performed) Bajoran arbiter arrives to preside over the extradition hearing. (In another great scene, Odo had strongarmed Quark into giving up his bar for awhile so that they could hold the hearing there.) There follows a gripping “trial” scene which alternates with scenes during various recesses in the hearing in which the nature of Trills and Jadzia/Dax is examined in a really science fictional way. In addition to spotlighting Dax, it also gives Sisko a chance to demonstrate more of his character and past with Dax. (There is also a moment recalling Bashir’s hesitation when Dax is stonewalling Sisko and, in frustration, he smacks his fist in his palm and wishes she were still a man.) Finally, the ending is simple, but it also makes sense and works.

My only serious problem with the episode is that, even if Trills think they take responsibility for their previous symbiont/hosts actions, it’s an invalid deal because the idea of executing a 20-something woman for something a dead man may or may not have done in a previous life, whether there’s a symbiont connecting them or not, is manifestly unjust. Still, that is the situation that is presented, nobody ever promised anyone justice, and it makes for good practical drama. I’d put this one behind “Captive Pursuit” but would group it with that one as a cut above the rest.

DS9 1.9 “The Passenger”

Kira and Bashir are returning on the runabout from a medical call in which Bashir’s conceit is once again emphasized. A second emergency causes them to go aboard a burning ship and rescue one person while the other seizes Bashir by the throat, orders him to “make me live” and then dies. Turns out he was a criminal and the woman they rescued was a sort of detective gone far beyond the level of Javert or Gerard as she’s convinced he’s still alive and continuing his criminal ways, turning the episode into a sort of horror movie. The rest of the episode involves the progress of people accepting her thesis and trying to drag it back into science fiction by hypothesizing how it might be physically possible (mind transference into the “unused” portions of humanoid brains) and then trying to figure out who he could be inhabiting and how to deal with him.

Much of this episode is actually quite good and enjoyable and I was wondering why I had such a negative impression of it but then Bashir’s ludicrously bad acting (and/or Paul Lynch’s impotent directing) ruined the episode and reminded me why I didn’t like it. Other bad things include stuff not worthy of the phrase “technobabble” but more just “gobbledegook,” especially involving computers, a scene in which a stage whisper doesn’t remotely hide the identity of the whisperer, and a scene in which the impression is given (as we go to break so the impression can set) that the detective somehow fell off a balcony before she explains in sick bay that she was pushed, a bad action scene in which several people are slowly shot, and Dax emulating McCoy in whipping up a special EMP in moments and sending it down a tractor beam (which is apparently the one thing you can do through someone’s shields).

On the other hand, much of the character interaction is good, including the usual lusting over Jadzia by Quark and Odo’s failure to comprehend (or his denial of his comprehension) but also with a less common element I wish they’d have played with more involving Odo and a new Starfleet security guy [1] butting heads with Kira wondering if Sisko is freezing Odo out. This notion of jurisdiction (as included in “Dax,” above) and conflicts of loyalty between Starfleet and Bajor is dramatic and interesting.

Another good element of this episode is the humor. When the detective thinks Odo is being too cavalier and asks “what kind of fool are you?” he replies in inimitable Odo-fashion. “My own special variety.” And when Dax is following up on a theory she’s explaining to Sisko, she says, “I’ve been asking myself, ‘Why would anyone induct a bioelectrical charge into a glial cell?'” and Sisko agrees: “A question I have always wondered about.” The scene is made even funnier as she stands there, in intellectual detachment, holding hands with the corpse of a murderer.

DS9 1.10 “Move Along Home”

In this episode, which takes the prize for worst one so far, members of a species who enjoy nothing more than games arrive on the station and are cheated by Quark, so they force him to play a game which he comes to realize may be deadly and uses Sisko, Kira, Dax, and Bashir as pieces.

This forces all the characters to do ridiculous things (somewhat as the TOS episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”) with lots of dumb laughing and coughing and nursery rhymes (with Sisko for some reason adopting falsetto) and the tiresome refrain of “move along home.” Fortunately, there’s nothing key in here that would prevent skipping this episode. The only good parts to this are Quark’s internal war of compassion and avarice and the contrast between Starfleet officers and Kira and Odo.


[1] This guy may have been a trial balloon for a recurring character but I think he just appeared in this and the next and then disappeared.